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Governor’s May 6, 2020 Executive Order Grants New Temporary Presumption of COVID-19 Disability Arising Out of and In the Course Of Employment

  • By: Sophia Meyer

On May 6, 2020, Governor Newsom announced an Executive Order creating a temporary rule which applies to employees working between March 19, 2020 and July 4, 2020.   While the official order is not available yet, we want to provide the key highlights of the temporary rule:    

1.  Creates a rebuttable presumption that employees who contract COVID-19 within 14 days after performing labor or services for the employer between March 19, 2020 and July 4, 2020 contracted COVID-19 during the course of their employment as essential workers.

2.  A positive test or confirmed diagnosis from a licensed physician is required. 

3.  Applies to all workers outside the home (not remote workers) who are working at direction of the employer.  Does not include those who choose to go into the office. 

4.  A claim under this presumption must be filed within 15 days, and there is a reduced period of time in which to reject the claim (30 days instead of 90 days).  (May potentially be applicable to claims for exposure prior to March 19, 2020.)

5.  Where an employee has been paid sick leave benefits, specifically available in response to COVID-19, those benefits shall be used and exhausted before any temporary disability benefit or 4850 time are due and payable.  No waiting period for temporary disability benefits for employees who have no sick leave benefit options.  

6.  Temporary Disability must be recertified every 15 days within the first 45 days, then every 45 days thereafter by a licensed physician.

7.  If death results, no benefits payable to the state (Death without Dependents Unit).

8.  Apportionment to permanent disability allowed.

9.  Only workers’ compensation benefits – no specific reimbursement for PPE, lodging, or other expenses.

In this ever-changing environment of COVID-19, the best practices for employers and employees moving forward is to continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines on the wearing of masks, washing of hands, and social distancing.  

 Employers should continue to offer work-from-home options to those essential employees whose duties allow for them to remain outside of the office.  Government agencies should follow the Governor and State OES Director and Public Health Official directives.